Children given MMR jab declines

THE number of children in Colchester being given the controversial MMR jab has fallen, new figures have revealed.

THE number of children in Colchester being given the controversial MMR jab has fallen, new figures have revealed.

The Government recommends that nationally 95% of children receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab, but in Colchester the latest figures show only 75% have had the vaccination.

In light of this, the East Essex Area Forum will form a special scrutiny committee to look at the reasons behind the low numbers and work with partners to raise them.

The jab hit the headlines in 1998 after a national report claimed it could have adverse side effects and although it has since been declared safe, many parents still decide against having their children immunised.

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Campaigners opposed to MMR said last night that parents should be offered an alternative to the one-off immunisation.

Jackie Fletcher, founder of JABS - a national support group for immunisation damaged children and their families - said the Government should reinstate single vaccinations which were stopped in 1999.

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Mrs Fletcher said JABS was not opposed to immunisation but felt the three vaccines all at once should not be given to young children.

She said: “I would think the falling uptake for MMR would be due to the parents knowing a family member or relative whose child appears to have been affected by the vaccine who obviously don't want to take the same risk with their own child.

“The Department of Health should reinstate the single dose vaccine on the NHS so any parents concerned about the combination of three vaccines has the option to give the jabs individually.”

Mrs Fletcher, whose 16-year-old son is severely brain damaged which she blames on the MMR jab, said 30 parents were registered with JABS who attributed the death of their children to the vaccine.

Colchester's poor MMR uptake was referred to the East Essex Area Forum by Essex County Council as a potential area for further investigation.

The forum's members will discuss the proposal at a meeting in Marks Tey next week.

Michael Page, Essex county councillor and chairman of the East Essex Area Forum, said: “What I'll be doing is setting up a working party to look into it and report back to the council's scrutiny committee. We're looking to find ways to increase the number of inoculations.

“We'll be working with all the other partners - the PCT, schools, doctors and other organisations. It can have a big impact if people don't immunise - the consequences are quite bad with children.

“We've been asked as a matter of urgency to take this on board.”

Mr Page said it was the first time an area forum had been asked to really scrutinise such a serious issue and was looking forward to working with the other partners.

He added: “One possibility is we might be able to do some sort of advertising campaign with the health authority and the PCT.”


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